I could spend a day writing posts about Mike Piazza and my memories of him as a Met. Yesterday, Mike Piazza officially retired from the game of baseball and closed the book on his hall of fame career.
Mike Piazza was the first Met since Darryl Strawberry that I was drawn too from the day he put on the uniform. I remember being home from college for the summer and picking up a Sports Illustrated that had Piazza on the cover and was talking about his trade from the Dodgers to the Marlins. I thought, "Why can't the Mets get a guy like this?"
And then they did.
I'll remember Piazza batting over .340 and thinking that I've never seen a Mets player hit the ball like this. I'll remember every time that he stepped up to the plate during a close game thinking that he was going to hit a home run. I'll never forget the home run he hit against the Braves in the first game played in New York on 9/11 and shedding tears while he rounded the bases thinking that he just gave a little ray of hope to New York during this troubled time.
I'll remember his curtain calls. I'll remember game 5 of the 2000 World Series in his final at bat thinking that he just crushed a home run off Mariano Rivera only to see it fall short. I'll remember his home run against the Braves in the 1999 playoffs where he single handedly brought the Mets back only to have Kenny Rogers blow it.
I'll never forget Piazza's home run to cap off a 9 run 8th inning to comeback and beat the Braves. I'll try and forget the Mets experimenting him at first base. I'll remember Mike Piazza as a Met.
I hope someday he finds his way back to the Mets organization as a broadcaster or a bench coach. Actually, I hope that Fox or ESPN pick him up as a commentator so I don't have to listen to Tim McCarver or Joe Morgan wax eloquent, but that seems unlikely. It's a shame that a player of Piazza's caliber and class never got a chance to win a World Series. The Mets just couldn't put the right pieces in place around him, but Piazza played hard every day regardless of the team he was on.
One thing is for sure, #31 should be retired at Citi Field next year.